“Let’s go outside.” The words most dogs love dearly, but many dogs go out and do their own thing and their person does her own thing. Even on walks one is smelling the world near the ground and the other is looking at things and they are mostly different things.
In order to be a team it’s got to be a team effort. If the dog I’m working with isn’t actually ‘with’ me, I need to change things so I’m more ‘with’ them and invite the ‘with’ me.
So what does this dog like? Can I do it, or at least take part or be the cheering section? (Or if it’s a no-no, what is like it, but still acceptable?)
A) chasing or hunting – 1. Go game – toss food (treats or dog food or small biscuits) and send dog to get them; 2. Retrieve game – have dog sit, put down just out of reach a favorite toy, send them and run away the opposite direction – you’re aiming for a dog chasing you with the toy; 3. Find game – as soon as your dog is not looking at you run and hide (have some really great treats on you), make a weird noise and praise them and reward for finding you; 4. Runaway recalls – make noise and as soon as your dog looks at you start running away, pull out treats or tug toy when they catch you and reward with food or tug game; 5. They’ve gotten intense about squirrels or rabbits – do some control cues (like sit or down) then as soon as they’ve responded reward by helping them hunt for a little while, then do the control cues again, then another round of hunting (if they’re too excited to do the cues, move them far enough away from whatever they’re hunting to reduce excitement and do the cues and release to hunt again); 6. Hike in a place that is unknown to them and do something with them each 30-45 seconds.
B) Doing some work/help for you: 1. Add a backpack or harness so they’re doing some work for you; 2. Drop the glove games-where they find it and retrieve it for you; 3. Take me back – to the house, to the car, to the door (where you urge your dog to lead you and reward them for success); 4. Pick that up – like keys or litter (paper, pop cans); 5. targeted pottying – get your dog to go in the spot you want them to by rewarding generously the closer they get to the target.
C) Games for the sake of fun: 1. Set up an agility course (cobbled together or spiffy – your dog won’t care) and practice having fun doing obstacles; 2) Flying disc – nice tosses, rollers, frisbee tricks; 3) Drive ball or soccer – either you directing the dog or you versus the dog.
If you’ve stood in the doorway grumbling because your dog has found something interesting to do without you, it’s time to turn the tables and get some extra enjoyment out of that furry relationship. Or if the New Year has put that same old resolution on the list, your dog is a great exercise partner, go have some fun!
- Your Happy Pet: Does your dog need some exercise? (victoriaadvocate.com)